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Environmental Ethics

The Ethical Basis for Ecosystem Management
Ecosystem Management: The Human Dimension
Establishing an environmental ethic is of utmost concern to the human species to better comprehend our place in the world and our potentials for the future.In doing so, we must extend our thinking of rights and responsibilities.I believe we must incorporate not only a temporal component, but also a spatial understanding of the world as an organic biotic community and how consumption is a part of the natural order.Aldo Leopold believes that conservation ethics must be rooted in a determination: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”I would like to start with Leopold’s statement, and further explore how the definitions of integrity, stability and beauty can be better understood given three corollary’s:
1. All organic entities must consume to survive – it is not only a right, but a responsibility
2. There are limited resources to be consumed by organic entities on the planet
3. The human species has the ability, through rational thought, to conserve ever-depleting resources
Leopold’s ethic attempts to extend what is of human, moral concern to include animals, ecosystems, and endangered species.How can this concern be expressed in today’s society?I see one problem with this argument in that there is little discussion about power and influence that is inherent in current definitions of rights.Therefore, I will introduce the notion that organic entities, those that depend on the consumption of energy for survival, must retain the right to consume resources to survive.Notions of right and wrong now have no standing – it is a fact that organic entities must consume to maintain life. I will turn to Callicott for some discussion of limits and to the Second Law of Thermodynamics as a moral decree to conservation.The r…

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